Write an essay about the current state of knowledge (i.e. what the science says) on a topic within the corrections realm. You will nominate a topic yourself based on what is of most interest to you; however, there are some further guidelines to assist you below.
Writing your essay
Your essay should include the following elements:
The introduction should clearly state your research question or topic of interest, and explain what you thought about this issue beforeyou did any research.
2. A body
In the body of the essay, you should discuss the current state of knowledge based on the empirical evidence and your research. You should also discuss how your topic impacts the current corrections system. Do not simply list the results from several studies. Instead, you should demonstrate your ability to integrate, analyse, and synthesise these results into a coherent discussion about what we know and still need to find out to better understand the topic of interest. You should include a minimum of five (5) peer-reviewed research articles in your essay.
Note: the term ‘current’ is used loosely; some of the most important research in an area may be from the 1970s (e.g. many scholars regularly cite studies published before they were born, because they shaped that field). You should consider, however, whether this theory is still widely accepted in the field (and why) or whether it has developed over time.
3. A conclusion
In your conclusion, discuss whether the evidence supported your original beliefs. Also consider whether the current corrections system needs to change based on this science.
Choosing a topic
You will find a list of potential topics below, but you are not limited to this list. In fact, you are encouraged to think beyond this list. When choosing your topic, you need to consider:
1. How this topic relates to corrections.
You are welcome to incorporate information you learned from previous units; however, the research should focus on issues discussed in this unit.
2. The amount of available empirical evidence on that topic.
For instance, you may be very interested in the potential relationship between who people barrack for in the AFL and their risk of imprisonment. Although this topic is relevant to corrections, it is unlikely that there is much research into this issue. As such, it would be a poor choice for this essay. As mentioned above, you should include a minimum of five (5) peer-reviewed research articles in your essay.
3. Your understanding of the empirical evidence on that topic.
Your goal is to understand, integrate, synthesise and discuss the current state of knowledge on your topic. Think back to the research articles you have read in the past – some were likely easy to understand, whereas others were so filled with numbers and jargon that you couldn’t even figure out what they were saying, let alone determine if the evidence supported their claims. In order to succeed in this assignment, you need to demonstrate that you understand their research design, their hypotheses and their main results. Once you understand what they did and what they found, you can integrate the findings from multiple studies to present a complete picture of our current knowledge on your topic.
A non-exhaustive list of possible topics
1. The impact of community and custodial sentences on recidivism by juvenile offenders
2. Public support for community alternatives to prison
3. The effectiveness of sex offender registries
4. Predictors of success for offenders re-entering the community from prison
5. The likely impact of OPCAT on Australian custodial facilities
6. Whether prisoners should have access to technology and internet in prisons
7. The impact of prison on one category of marginalised individuals (offenders with physical or mental disabilities, indigenous offenders, female offenders)
8. The effect of solitary confinement on prisoners
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